When I worked at a cooking school in Barcelona, a lot of information came at me fast. I was juggling a new language, a new culinary lexicon, a whole slew of new adopted workplace behaviors. I often found myself asking: What’s that? Can you repeat that? Can you explain this to me? And then one day: What is that metal thing and why is it called a sifón?
I would soon learn the magic of the sifón, often referred to as an iSi whip tool in English. Essentially, it’s a pressurized canister that uses gas to create foams and whips. You fill the bottle with a liquid of your choice and the combination of internal pressure and the force of a small amount of nitrous oxide (N2O) allows a bubbly foam to emerge. For example: In goes heavy cream, out comes whipped cream. Voilà!
I’ll admit, it seems like something more at home on an episode of an Iron Chef, but perhaps the iSi whip deserves a place in the kitchen of a home cook as well. Here are a few reasons I fell in love with it:
It’s intensely productive and the yield is worth noting. The tool has the ability to dramatically increase the amount of substance you put inside of it. For example, it can turn a small amount of cream into a large amount of whipped cream (and with much more ease than whipping by hand!)
It’s environmentally effective. Instead of using multiple canisters of whipped cream (and throwing them away after not using all of it), you can whip only the amount you need and reuse the container after a wash.
You can flex on your friends and go wild with experimentation. While the instrument is most famous for its use with whipped cream, there are so many other permutations of foam to be made! You could top your coffee with some coffee foam or casually whip up some savory mousses to top your dinners with. Channel the inner molecular gastronomist in you!
I’ll admit, there is a bit of a learning curve with the tool, but once you get your bearings, it’s quite fun to mess around with. I still haven’t gotten my own whip tool since leaving the cooking school, but I still think back to those early days, learning to pipe whipped cream, completely shocked at how easily it emerged from the silver sifón.
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Have you ever used an iSi whip tool? Let us know in the comments.
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.